Writing Feedback, Critiques, and Criticism

JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

???????????????Writing feedback. I have a love/ hate/ love/ love/ hate/ appreciate/ dread relationship with it. I imagine most writers do.

Of course we dread it. Which artist wants to pour their heart and soul and energy into their creative work and then have someone tear it to pieces? Even though I know– a thousand times over– that my editor is on my team, I still have major moments of panic when I read her feedback.

Yet the love/appreciate part is very, very important. Without critique, my writing hits an early apex. I can’t push through to a higher, better, superior level of writing without the much-needed push from feedback.

This is what feedback looks like in my own life:

Writing group. Every month, I meet with three other novelists. Each of us are working on our own projects, and they’re all very different from one another. The week before we meet, we…

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Getting to Know Your Characters

Tate Street

150102 Novel Fridays Banner

Happy Friday, novelists! I hope you’ve had productive weeks. Today we’re going to talk about character.

Imagine sitting in an otherwise empty room with a stranger. The lighting in the room is bad–you can’t really see the other person, but you do know she’s there. Eventually, you start to tell the stranger about her life. The more you talk, the more definition she gains. She may have aspects of you and/or people you know. You do this for an hour every day for several months.

That’s more or less your relationship with the main character of your novel.

Getting to know your protagonist can be one of the greatest challenges of novel writing. You have to understand her motivations and likeliest behaviors in any given situation. If she breaks type, you have to know why. And while a lot of that work gets done internally and then on the page, it…

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The 8 C’s of Plotting: Worksheets

Lara Willard

8C-worksheet

If you haven’t read Part One, the introduction to the 8 C’s, read it here!

Use these worksheets to:

  • plan out the main plot skeleton of a novel
  • reduce a complex novel into one, overarching plot
  • understand the main plot of your novel, all the better to pitch with
  • get an idea of what to put in your synopsis
  • recognize how virtually all movies and novels use a similar structure
    • (and how each modifies the structure to fit its own needs)
  • make your other writer friends jealous of how organized you are

Do not use these worksheets to:

  • make money publishing or reposting my work
  • create your own blog post on the 8 C’s without linking back here
  • make paper airplanes (unless you recycle, of course)

Next week I’ll start going into more detail about the 8 C’s and the steps in between. Until then, because I love you…

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Short and Sweet Advice for Writers – Break Your Story Down to Build It Up.

Live to Write - Write to Live

VW bug cutawayWhen we read a finished story, whether a thousand-word piece of flash fiction of a thousand-page novel, we perceive it as whole. It’s similar to the way we see each other. You don’t think of your friend as a collection of distinct elements. You don’t perceive her as a particular combination of skin and hair and eyes, scarf and jeans and shoes. You don’t see the individual bones, muscles, or cells that make up her body. You don’t consciously perceive all the discrete events and experiences that make up her personality and character. You just see Jane.

Stories are like that. We experience a story as the sum total of its parts. And, as with a person, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Still, those parts are there. Without them the person or the story would not exist, at least not in the form you perceive.

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Beat Sheets: For Plotters, Pantsers, and Technophobes

Writers In The Storm Blog

by Jami Gold

If you’ve heard of beat sheets before, you might have heard about complicated forms or spreadsheets. I don’t know about you, but I don’t do math. Heck, I write my stories by the seat of my pants, so something that forces me to draft in a regimented way doesn’t appeal to me either.

Er, okay… So why am I talking to you about beat sheets when they’re a tool of outlining and a Microsoft Excel thing with lots of numbers?

It’s because everyone can use beat sheets—plotters, pantsers, and anyone in between. Trust me. *smile*

So a Beat Sheet Is a Sheet with Beats? Huh? What the heck Is a Beat?

Story beats are plot events that force the story to turn in a new direction (i.e. “turning point”). They’re the choices, dilemmas, and questions that make readers turn the pages. After each main beat…

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